Online posts from paedophile hunters led to Wickham man committing suicide, inquest hears

THE stress of social media postings by online paedophile hunters led to a man committing suicide after he was caught in a sting operation by the vigilante group, an inquest has heard.

Tuesday, 27th February 2018, 9:27 am
Updated Tuesday, 27th February 2018, 10:29 am
David Baker, 43, was caught by a paedophile-hunting sting. Picture from Southampton Trap

David Baker, from Wickham, was confronted by the Southampton Trap group after he allegedly arranged to meet a 14-year-old child in a supermarket car park in Portswood, Southampton, on October 4 last year.

He was arrested by police and questioned on suspicion of arranging to meet a child aged under 16 before being released while still under investigation.

The inquest heard the 43-year-old was found dead at his home on October 7 having barricaded himself in.

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He had taken an overdose of prescription medication and had also cut himself out of family photos and written two notes to his family.

His fiancee, Kelly Davies, found out about the incident through friends and by several postings on Facebook by Trap, the hearing at Winchester Coroners Court was told.

She said: ‘None of us knew anything, we just thought it was someone being sick, we didn’t really believe it.

‘We were all really upset, the whole family.’

Ms Davies, who was due to be married with Mr Baker later this year, said that she moved out of the house with her daughter and granddaughter to stay in a friend’s caravan after finding out the news.

Describing Mr Baker, she said: ‘He was a kind, loving man, he would do a lot for people, always willing to help.’

Her daughter, Cherelle Stares said they had not felt safe staying at their home.

‘Our address was put publicly on social media, I didn’t feel safe as there are idiots out there,’ she said.

‘I didn’t want a brick being put through the window with my mum and daughter there.’

PC James Giles said Mr Baker was advised by the duty solicitor to answer all questions during his interview as ‘no comment’ but also told him not to answer questions about his welfare and state of mind.

He told the inquest he was given leaflets of independent charities and helplines that could provide him with support and advice.

Recording a verdict of suicide, coroner Grahame Short said: ‘It’s clear he was offered advice and he was asked as to his state of mind.

‘I do not know if it would have made any difference if his solicitor had allowed him to answer questions about his state of mind or welfare but he didn’t in any event.’

He added: ‘It’s not for me to judge David’s actions on October 4 or indeed the actions of Southampton Trap which led to his arrest.

‘However I believe in this particular case the postings on social media after his arrest contributed to the stress on David and to him being alone and isolated in his own home where he made his decision to end his own life.

‘This was therefore a causative factor to what led to his death, at least in part.’